By Adrienne Bergmann ’19
High school is hard for everyone. There are a number of reasons as to why that might be; it could be the assignments, or the drama, or the lack of sleep. For senior Andrea Woodward, the challenge is a combination of most of these things. Andrea is a long-time member of the Boys Hope Girls Hope (BHGH) program.
BHGH aids middle and high school students from disadvantaged homes in graduating from high school and also in earning a college degree.
Andrea’s day starts off every morning sometime between 4:30 and 5am. She helps her sisters get ready for the day and then goes to catch a bus ride that won’t reach its destination for two hours.
Once at school, Andrea’s day looks much like anyone else’s. She attends regular classes, is involved with cheer, and she has her group of friends to hang out with. During the day, she can get meals or snacks from the BHGH room in the Boys’ Division cafeteria.
“Around July 17th, we had to move out of the houses because they didn’t have enough funding to keep running the houses,” Woodward states, “[BHGH] switched to an academy program because they have another academy program at Aurora Central High School and that was working successfully.”
“The room serves as a home base,” Woodward says. This is due to the program changes that occurred over this previous summer.
After school, Andrea and the other scholars stay on campus until 7pm. BHGH provides food and tutoring. At 7pm, the scholars get picked up by “Hop Skip Drive,” a minor-friendly uber service.
The program has helped her in her academic career. “They try to help you best organize your time and what you’re doing.” Woodward notes, “They help you pay for sports. I personally always try to be in a lot of clubs and sports.”
BHGH provides the funding for their scholars’ education. The money comes from various scholarships. The scholars each have a list of around five different donors that they write thank you letters to at holidays throughout the year.
BHGH also offers college scholarships around $5,000 per year. If the scholars want to earn these scholarships, they have various assignments they have to do. “There’s some like ‘ visit a college and do a write up on the school’ or go to an experience, like a play or musical and write about your thoughts,” Woodward explained. “If a scholar completes these assignments, that student can have up to $25,000 in scholarship money to put toward their college education.
Through the program, Andrea has made many connections; both with scholars and also, with the adults that aid in running the program. She has lived with various counselors for four to five years and has met a lot of people throughout that time. Some counselors move on to higher paying jobs or more part-time level jobs, but Andrea still sees the familiar faces wherever she goes.
Every other Saturday, the scholars participate in “Super Saturdays”, which are days where they all go to the BHGH main office to study for the afternoon. One of the part-time workers is particularly close to Andrea, as she used to be one of the counselors Andrea lived with when she first started being in the program.
“We bonded over being the only girls in the program,” Woodward says.
The current counselor and program manager, Ashley, has a close relationship with Andrea as well, due to the fact they’ve lived with each other for two years.
Andrea, like most others, has had her fair shares of responsibilities and challenges; but in the end, it’s those responsibilities and challenges that help shape her into the person she is today.